7 Under-the-Radar Boston Gems

By Scott Kearnan  |  October 13, 2013

When it comes to restaurants, reputation can make or break success. But sometimes the best spots aren't those that have the biggest buzz (read: the best PR machines). Every neighborhood in Boston is full of under-the-radar gems that are loved by locals, but often overlooked by those who aren't in the know. Allow us to remedy that: here's a handful of neighborhoods with spots that deserve attention from diners citywide. 

  • Roslindale: Redd's in Rozzie

    This unassuming Roslindale favorite is helmed by chef Charlie Redd, a vet of Harvest and Hamersley's Bistro. Here his accomplished menu of seasonal American cuisine includes impeccably prepared wood-roasted lamb, goat cheese stuffed chicken breast and green tomatoes stuffed with blue cheese and accompanied by peach almond jam (617-325-1000).

  • Jamaica Plain: Vee Vee

    There's always a warm, convivial vibe at this cozy Centre Street restaurant, which offers meat dishes but leans strongly toward veggie fare; there's also a weekly vegan prix fixe. The always-shifting farm- and sea-to-plate selection (think potato-crusted pollock) meets any dietary need that includes: awesome (617-522-0145).

  • Brighton: Devlin's

    A pearl in a sea of Irish pubs, this Brighton Center restaurant merits a visit from surrounding 'hoods. The creative but not-ostentatious plates (from fish tacos to fig-and-prosciutto pizzas) are savored in a boisterous main dining room (which often features DJs spinning as weekend nights wear on) or, in nicer weather, the large and largely undiscovered back patio (617-779-8822).

  • Fenway: Rod-Dee Thai Cuisine II

    It's cash-only, but you won't need to bring too much. Portions are generous and prices are low at this Fenway-area "sequel" to Cambridge's Rod-Dee. Its superb Thai plates are certainly no secret to neighbors, who constantly descend on the spot for filling entrees and fast-served takeout, but the otherwise nondescript eatery merits a visit from any corner of the city (617-859-0969).

  • Roxbury: Merengue

    Ok, we'll qualify this pick as saying that critics and foodies are probably fairly familiar with this Dominican gem. But plenty of Bostonians are unaware that a top-notch, upscale Dominican restaurant graces Roxbury with spicy pork, steak and seafood dishes that are out of this world (617-445-5403).

  • South End: Vejigantes

    A sense of soulfulness and authenticity sets apart this fab Puerto Rican restaurant tucked away in Villa Victoria - a South End residential and social space that was created by Latino community activists. Vejigantes is easy to miss, but it's a mistake to, as the paella is perfection, and pretty much everything else is too (617-247-9249).

  • East Boston: Ecco

    American with an Italian accent, Ecco's creative menu complements a trendy cocktail bar in a neighborhood where smaller, hole-in-the-wall take-out joints tend to dominate. From catch-of-the-day seafood to veal and steak mainstays, the impressive dishes don't shy away from robust flavor. The prices, on the other hand, are modest compared to spots of this quality elsewhere (617-561-1112).